Salmon, Crab, Lobster — Nothing Better Right? Well, There's A Dark Side You Should Know About.
It's amazing what's behind a good label.
There's a big problem with fishing. Fishing nets and hooks catch and kill lots of other sea creatures — fish, dolphins, porpoises, small whales, and birds. It's called "bycatch."
Here's a loggerhead sea turtle escaping from a fishing net equipped with a turtle excluder device. Be free!
Shrimp bycatch. Ugh.
But hold on — this bycatch story has a happy ending:
Tens of thousands of albatross were dying every year as "bycatch."
Like many seabirds, when an albatross spots a fishing trawler, she'll often swoop down to investigate.
When they process fish at sea, the trawlers dump fish heads, guts, and other goodies overboard. Yum. But every year thousands of hungry seabirds get tangled in the fishing cables and drown.
Here's the good news.
Hake fishermen in South Africa reduced albatross deaths by 99% in 2014. (They saved 90% of all seabird species, but 99% of albatross in particular.) The solution was so simple! A series of "scare lines" are hung from the fishing lines running off the back of the boat. These flapping ropes disturb the birds and keep them in the air, away from dangerous fishing cables.
This happy ending was made possible in part by the fishery's Marine Stewardship Council certification, which works with all kinds of different fisheries in order to promote sustainable fishing.
Keep an eye out for that extra special label that can help you choose the right seafood to eat, whether it's salmon, crab, or cod. And learn more about how groups like the MSC are working to protect our oceans. They need our help!